Dir: Jason Trost
Starring: Jason Trost, Lucas Till, Sophie Merkeley, Lee Valmassy, and James Remar.
Released: 7/10/2013 DVD/BLU- RAY
Jason Trost, writer, director, and actor on All Superheroes Must die introduces the film with a warning and an apology. He points out that the films poster and cover art are a bit deceptive. The marketing people seem to be trying to sell this as the next Spiderman, or at the very least Chronicle. But to suggest to people that this is an epic action movie with helicopters and skyscrapers is misleading at best, and an outright lie at worst! What we have instead is a micro budget drama that favours talk instead of action and endeavours to look at the inner conflicts of its characters. Trost wants you to know this, and is sorry if you came expecting something different.
The story concerns a group of four Superheroes who find themselves at the mercy of the villainous Rickshaw (Remar). Drugged and stripped of their powers they are forced to play a vicious game where failure will mean death, not only for them but for a town full of innocent civilians that Rickshaw has rigged to explode.
All Superheroes Must Die (previously known as VS.) initially sets itself up like a low budget horror movie rather than a superhero fantasy. Taking its cue from the Saw franchise, it drops the viewer straight into the middle of the situation, and we learn about the characters through their interactions, and reactions to events rather than long drawn out origin stories. With neither the money or the time to waste, the movies immediacy is one of its strengths and helps, early on at least, to paper over some of its shortcomings.
Trost clearly has the best of intentions and has put his all into to making this a workable movie. Considering that the whole thing was thrown together in about four weeks, and for less than most people earn in a year, he should be extremely proud of what he has managed to achieve. The screenplay is surprisingly good at times and its attempts to look at the inner conflicts of characters with superpowers has a few sparks of originality. An attempt to examine the dynamics of hero and sidekick is particularly bold, and tap into something that may have made the whole movie more interesting had it been developed more. There are also sudden sparks of unexpected brutality when it becomes a game of survival, and the idea that super heroes aren’t always about self- sacrifice is a smart, fascinating notion.
But ultimately, for all its good ideas and intentions, its limitations pull it down. The action scenes are often very clunky, and prove distracting rather than exciting. Visually it looks pretty good, and the hand held camera work gives it a sense of gritty realism, but the characters themselves look cheap. Whilst this is possibly part of the point, it’s hard to escape the feeling that it is simply what was available at the time. The acting is a cut above the usual low budget standard, but isn’t strong enough to carry the films bigger ideas. This probably has more to do with a lack of time and development than a lack of competence, but it means that some of the films more important moments lack the emotional poignancy to really hit hard.
There is enough here to suggest that Jason Trost is a talent to watch. Whatever the films shortcomings, it manages to hold the attention until the end. It’s not a terrible movie, neither is it by any means a great one. But it deserves a little attention, and in its own small way is something of an achievement.